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Galway-born snapper has a different take on electioneering

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A young Irish photographer with Galway roots is making a name for himself on the European stage – with a new book that offers a different twist on elections!

Mark Duffy had already been shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards before taking first prize at the Vienna PhotoBook 2015 for his new collection – with an original approach to the world of politics.

His book, Vote No.1, examines the culture of election advertising in Ireland. The images reflect the Irish electorate’s increasing disillusionment with the political process after years of harshening austerity politics

Born and raised in Galway, the Duffy family later moved to Athlone and Mark is now based in London.

However, his roots remain in Galway where his paternal grandmother, Peggy Duffy, still lives in St. Bridget’s Terrace in the city, at the ripe old age of 92.

Mark learned his craft from studying photography at IADT, Dún Laoghaire. After college, the young graduate, like so many others, emigrated to the buzzing metropolis of London to carve a career for himself. He has been residing in London ever since.

His PhotoBook, Vote No.1 focuses on the accidental, and often gruesome, disfigurements the electoral candidates’ faces suffer – an unintended consequence of their posters’ erection.

The idea came about after a trip home during the 2014 local election, Mark noticed a stark change in scenery – the city had changed face – festooned by thousands election posters.

Indeed, a visit to his beloved grandmother in Galway was to prove a source of inspiration for the creative photojournalist.

“The project actually started in Galway. The first photo I took was outside my granny Peggy’s house off Prospect Hill,” he said.

Inspiration came when Mark saw the large and disfigured image of a politician etched onto the side of a car.

The skewed portrait, he felt, was reflective of the political mood at that time. In a post-recession, disillusioned society, the smiles of politicians appeared disingenuous and somewhat sinister.

Following this ‘eureka’ moment, a heightened sense of awareness overcame Mark and he began to notice interestingly warped and disfigured faces all over the city.

“I saw a poster on the side of the road with a female candidate whose neck was punctured by the plastic tie holding it in place. It just looked so inch-perfect that it almost looked intentional. Then I just started seeing them everywhere … every lamppost covered with multiple candidates faces all vying for your attention,” he explains.

Neck tie. . . one of the images from Mark Duffy's book.

Neck tie. . . one of the images from Mark Duffy’s book.

“The project was driven by humour and individualism,” he says, stressing .the focus was on accidental disfigurements’.

And he’s quick to point out – ‘posters were not altered or vandalised during the making of this series!’

With a watchful eye and camera in hand, the young photographer captured a handful of stills before flying to London.

On return, he mulled over the concept of a political-themed PhotoBook. “Straight away, the idea was for a book,” he says.

Whilst in London, Mark feared that “the idea was so straightforward, somebody else was bound to come up with it if I didn’t do something now” – and with that, he booked an immediate return flight to Ireland to see his project through to completion.

Addressing the rather Tarantino-esque brutal looking disfigurements, he says: “They were so perfectly placed – it was almost like it had been done by a disgruntled employee”.

‘Vote No.1’ has featured in various competitions and exhibitions across Europe, taking first prize at the Vienna PhotoBook Award 2015; this collection was also shortlisted for the prestigious LUMA Rencontres Dummy Book Award 2015.

Unfortunately he was forced to withdraw from the LUMA competition having won the Vienna PhotoBook Award.

“I’ve received great feedback from industry people,” he says.

He admits that it’s a niche market – but ‘Vote No.1’ has a print run of 500, a very healthy number within this exclusive market.

The special edition limited run of 100 is photographed by Harald Latzko and handmade by Mark, using recycled corriboard election posters and bound with cable ties.

“Essentially the book is bound by its very subject matter,” he observes. The remaining 400 are printed in hardback copies.

The success of this collection has helped establish his name both at home and abroad.

RTÉ’s former London editor, Brian O’Connell launched the London event, held at The Photographers’ Gallery in Soho. The Irish leg was held in Gallery of Photography, Temple Bar, and was launched by David Davin-Power, political correspondent for RTÉ.

The book was presented to An Taoiseach, at a recent 1916 event held in London, attended by David Cameron.

Last week, to Mark’s surprise a letter arrived from Oifig an Taoisigh – a thank you letter from Enda, himself: “I very much enjoyed my visit to the Photographer’s Gallery in London last week and I was delighted to receive a gift of your book ‘Vote No.1’”

“Your photographs certainly show election posters in a different light!” wrote the Fine Gael leader.

The timing seemed a little ironic, according to Mark, who jokingly remarked: “That’s the reason why the election date was held back – he had to reassess his campaign strategy!”

To check out Mark’s work visit his website

Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra

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Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.

Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).

The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.

Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.

Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.

Road Closures:

  • Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
  • Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
  • Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
  • Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
  • Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
  • Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday

A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given.  Motorists will experience delays as a result.”

The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.

Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).

“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.

“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding.  High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.

“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.

“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.

Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.

“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.

“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so.  Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”

Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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